Combating extreme global poverty seems like an immense problem to face, but if we look to our past, we can see that the answer is already there. The Marshall Plan was implemented after World War II in order to aid the European economy and social structure and is to this day perceived as a success in U.S. foreign policy and aid. This same plan could be used today to combat global poverty, the benefits of which would include a stronger U.S. and global economy, improved national security and enhanced diplomatic relations. The U.S. has seen a similar effect of foreign aid in countries like China, India and South Korea, where the return on investment has more than doubled the aid amount. The aid to these countries turned the large population of poor into middle class consumers, therein widening the global market and economies and creating stable societies by eliminating the violence that breeds terrorism in poverty stricken areas. This strategy works, so why don’t U.S. leaders utilize this proven method?

Many Americans assume that about 20 percent of the federal budget goes towards foreign aid, leading them to believe that cutting this area is a good option. In reality, foreign aid only receives about one percent of the total federal budget. Americans also often assume that foreign aid does not benefit the U.S. when this is simply not the case. It is no secret that poverty encourages violence and instability, which, in modern times, leads to terrorism. Therefore, the only two options to combat terrorism seem to be physical combat or to transform poor, violent environments into peaceful, functioning nations. The current U.S. strategy of fighting terrorism with more violence is mediocre at best, while the evidence for the latter method of fighting is proven to work, as we see from the examples above.

Foreign aid also benefits Americans by increasing the global market, therein boosting the economy. Foreign aid transforms the barely surviving into the working poor, who then turn into a middle class that has the luxury of consumerism. Because 95 percent of the potential consumers of American goods and services live outside the U.S., this untapped market could explode with the help of foreign aid. 

Foreign aid leads to better economies and improved national security. Because it currently only receives about one percent of the budget, cuts to foreign aid would not be very beneficial in the long run. If we increased funding for foreign aid, we would not need to spend such a vast amount of the budget on military defense, while still getting results of global peace and stability. Citizens need to show their leaders and representatives that they support foreign aid. Call or email your representatives to show your support.

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